ANZ profit lifts in first half: Midday roundup

ANZ has delivered an increase in first half cash profit, with the company saying it has identified a number of solid growth opportunities.

ANZ recorded a cash profit of $3.182 billion in the six months to March 31, the company announced this morning, representing a 10% increase from the previous corresponding period.

Chief executive Mike Smith said the company was focused on maintaining its full-year dividend in the range of 65 to 70% of cash earnings.

“In the current environment, while we are well placed in our capital position we are committed to driving further capital efficiencies,” he said.

New worries for Masters hardware

The future earnings of hardware group Masters’ has been placed in question, following a new report from investment group Merrill Lynch.

According to The Australian, the bank has released a new report in which it states the company will lose $800 million over the next four years.

Analyst David Errington reportedly sent clients the report detailing how the first 15 stores in the chain have lost over $15 million per year.

“The problem for Masters is, despite its very high gross margin, its costs per store are currently inhibitively high,” he said, according to the publication.

Suppliers responsible for grocery prices, supermarkets argue

The nation’s two largest supermarkets have argued multinational suppliers are to blame for higher prices.

The Australian Financial Review reported Coles spokesman Robert Hadler as saying suppliers’ profit margins are higher than retailers’.

“There are some obvious reasons why prices would be different, but some of the price differentials are so large you have to question whether geography and the cost of production in Australia are the sole determinants of the big pricing differences,” Hadler said.

Shares open higher following strong offshore lead

The Australian sharemarket has opened higher this morning following a solid lead from offshore markets, and positive results from the local banking sector.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 35 points or 0.7% to 5,161.4 at 11.45 AEST, while in the United States, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had risen 106 points or 0.7% to 14,818.8.

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